MIT: Independent Activities Period: IAP

IAP 2017

Spacecraft Charging in Space Plasma Environment--An Introduction

Dr. Shu T. Lai, Research Affiliate

Jan/17 Tue 02:00PM-04:00PM Room 33-319

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Prereq: See description.

Spacecraft charging affects electronic measurements onboard and may be destructive for a spacecraft. The lecture begins by discussing the fundamentals of space environment and explaining what, where, when, and why spacecraft charging occurs.  The physical mechanism of spacecraft charging is clearly explained.  Solar storms are important for incoming currents; material properties are important for the outgoing currents.  Current balance between the incoming and outgoing currents determines the spacecraft potential. 

Spacecraft charging can occur in sunlight.  In a monopole-dipole configuration, potential barriers can form, trapping photoelectrons on the sunlit surface.

Mitigation methods are discussed.

Benefits:  This lecture offers awareness of hazards in space environment.  The physical concept will help equip the students for pursuing future scientific research ideas in fields of space physics, space propulsion, plasma physics, spacecraft engineering, and material science.  

Prereq: Attendees may have little or no background in this area. 

Sponsor(s): Aeronautics and Astronautics
Contact: Dr. Shu Lai,